Fostering Relationships: Three Ideas for Bringing the Best Out of Others

As you read this post, you might wonder, "why the forks in the pictures?" People are like forks. They can be used for good or bad based on the hands they are in. Also, I have a new keynote slide show titled "The Fork." It makes fork-related leadership points: the eating fork, the tuning fork and the fork in the road.

If you are in charge of leading others, the following list highlights three practices to maximize performance.

You need to decide whether or not your people are in the right job. Knowing this requires an intimate understanding of the person and the job responsibilities. My mother was a high-level leader in a hospital for years. A lady worked for her that was a hard worker, but consistently under-performed. Mom found out she was in the wrong position. This lady was an introvert and was working in a very social position. Once mom placed her in a more solo position, she thrived. She was able to give her best because her best was asked of her. When you have people in the wrong type of position, they are asked to engage a weakness every day. Only when people are asked to engage a strength can they perform at a high level.

You also have to make job placement about the table, not the person. It's about the position and the behaviors they demonstrate in that position. Don't make it about them personally. Talk about the duties of the job and what it takes to succeed in it. This will result in everyone being able to keep a non-personal point of view. There are enough reasons for personal squabbles in the workplace - whether someone is in the right position or not doesn't have to be one of them.

This decision is about clarity and expectations. People can naturally give their best when they know what their best should look like, feel like and move like. As a leader, you have to decide what "an amazing job" is for each individual. You then have to put language to it and get them talking about it. Get things out in the open. Keep an eye on their progress and then guide them through the gap between average and amazing. This is where high level leaders and performers live.

Once you get the gap between average and amazing identified, work with your team on getting one percent closer to amazing. Start small. Start with one skill. One process. One job. Figure that out, perfect it and then move on to another. Before you know it, you and your team will be much closer to amazing than average. Just make sure you, nor they ever feel like amazing has been reached. This can be just as dangerous as never reaching for it at all. (See my post on the dirty little secret of high performers.)

I did a post a few months ago about the difference between MySpace leaders and YourSpace leaders. To bring the best out of others, you have to care about them. You must have a genuine interest in seeing them personally and professionally succeed and then communicate this by asking questions, learning what is good with them, what is a challenge for them, etc. These interactions need to be positive in nature, even when helping them improve. Again, make it about the behavior or the job, not the person. Always coach up (here are a few suggestions on coaching strategies) and look for the good. The bad will reveal itself immediately. The positive is sometimes more elusive to find. It is your job to recognize the positive and emphasize it daily.

Processing Questions for PLI Curriculum Teachers/Trainers:

Decision 1

1. How can you better position others so that they can thrive?

2. What are the strength and weaknesses of the people on your team?

3. Who would benefit from a slight change in focus?

Decision 2

1. What is your image of an amazing job? Give Specific Details

2. What is one thing you can do to show them what an amazing job looks like?

3. What is the one skill that will move you 1% closer?

4. How can it be improved?

Decision 3

1. What are some steps you can do to make sure you are always coaching up?

1 comment:

Tom Magness said...

Great post, Rhett. I truly think I spend an increasingly greater percentage of my time working on #1 -- getting the right person in the right seat at the table. At the executive level, this is where I can really make a difference and equip subordinate teams for success. And no surprise, your other "Decisions" are all people-focused, as well. That is the business of leaders - taking care of people, inspiring them and equipping them for success, putting them in position to do their best. Great stuff.